If you want to know where your bike, pet or car are, you can search for them using a GPS tracker. We have tested devices with and without a contract or subscription model and show which are the best.
Spending hours looking for a lost pet or suspected stolen bike can be very grueling. If you don’t have an iPhone in connection with air tags at hand, GPS trackers are the more accurate alternative, even for longer distances. They rely on the combination of mobile communications via SIM card and GPS location.
In contrast to Apple Airtags, GPS trackers are completely independent and do not depend on other devices in the area for location. The location recorded via GPS is sent to the smartphone via mobile communications. Many of the trackers work with a subscription that unlocks the integrated SIM card. Other manufacturers activate the SIM card directly without a subscription – or you have to insert a SIM card yourself. We looked at various GPS devices with and without a SIM card and show which functions are suitable for whom and which models you should keep your hands off.
Our top 10 Bluetooth key finders show more gadgets for finding objects : The best key finders for Android and iOS . The guide Safely found: GPS trackers & air tags for e-bikes, backpacks, dogs & Co. helps you to find the right tracker for your needs. If you want to protect valuable items such as bicycles or e-scooters from theft, take a look at our guide to anti-theft protection for bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters: alarms, GPS trackers and locks .
Apple air tags
Airtags (test report) connect to other nearby iOS devices in the background to share location via Apple’s where-is network. The Apple Airtags themselves cannot establish a direct connection to the Internet. However, by using ultra-wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a meter-precise localization is possible locally, which can also be used to find lost keys in the crack of the sofa. To do this, the Airtags communicate with nearby iOS devices. The data is encrypted.
In contrast, GPS trackers establish an internet connection and independently receive a GPS signal. The exact location of such a device depends primarily on the weather and cell phone reception. The tracker cannot transmit a location in regions with poor coverage. On the other hand, in bad weather with rainy weather and heavy clouds, the reception to the GPS satellites is increasingly poor, which means that the location can sometimes not be recorded or can only be recorded very imprecisely. In good conditions, the deviation is usually only a few meters, but GPS transmitters are far from the accuracy of UWB. As a result, this technology is not suitable as a sofa crack tracker, such as the Apple Airtag.
Bluetooth trackers (list of the best) can also be used for location. However, they usually only use the GPS location of the connected smartphone. As a result, you always have to stay close to him, otherwise you won’t get any new data. These are therefore particularly suitable as a key finder (theme world) , so that you can find the bunch of keys in the apartment with a signal tone. They are less suitable for understanding where exactly the cat is roaming around in the neighborhood or where the stolen bike is. This is where GPS tracker models come into play, which show their full potential especially outside of cities, where iPhone density is decreasing.
Tractive GPS Dog 4
Tractive offers three different GPS trackers. The Tractive GPS Dog 4 is the middle tracker in terms of size and our GPS tracker test winner. The Cat Mini model is smaller, the Dog XL is larger. They also differ in terms of battery life, with the XL advertising a battery life of up to one month. We had Dog 4 and Cat Mini (see next space) each in the GPS tracker test.
We find the setup process to be very catchy and intuitive. After creating an account and entering the tracker ID on the back, our test devices are immediately recognized and connected. The Dog 4 also shows the current status directly via an LED. After charging, it quickly connects to the GPS. On the plus side, this is done via a USB-C port, which no other tracker on this leaderboard offers. All others rely on a micro-USB connection or their own charging devices with USB-A.
Tractive Cat Mini
Our second place goes to the smallest model from Tractive. The Cat Mini particularly impresses with its low weight and its handy size. Not only is it easier to take with you, it is also better suited for smaller animals for which the Dog 4 would be too big and heavy. However, the battery life is somewhat affected by the handiness, which drops from ten days to just two days.
The control button and status LED are housed in the Tractive logo. The latter tells you whether the tracker was able to establish a GPS signal and whether there is a mobile connection. Setup is the same process as the Dog 4.
Feeding bowl tracker
The GPS tracker from Fressnapf comes with an integrated Velcro fastener, which allows it to be flexibly attached to the dog leash, for example. It is waterproof and certified to IP67. To set it up, log into the app and connect the tracker to the charging pad as instructed. After up to 10 minutes, the device is then connected and only a few details about the pet are requested. The whole thing is done quite quickly and the tracker is then ready to go.
Onntrack Portable Pro+
The Onntrack Portable Pro+ is one of the largest GPS tracker models in this article. The magnet built into the back is significantly stronger than that of the competition. A rubberized, magnetic plate is also included, which can be attached to objects with its adhesive strips on the back.
With the Weenect XS, the manufacturer has made the latest model available to us, which was only released a few weeks ago. To connect, we simply scan the barcode on the back with the camera. It’s quick and easy, but the setup process that follows takes a little longer. We need to provide some details about our pet. After completing the login process, we noticed that the tracker thinks it’s still in China. In this case, this may be due to our test device, but it could be remedied by setting up an energy-saving zone via standby mode, after which the tracker now permanently correctly recognizes its position.
Weenect has even given the IP68 waterproof XS a vibration motor, which can be used to trigger a vibration alarm via the app. The tracker also has a built-in speaker for a search with a signal tone. Vibration and sound are transmitted via GSM and thus work remotely outside the Bluetooth range. Recall training with the pet is also possible.
Salind 11 4G
The Salind 11 4G is one of the larger trackers. It has a magnetic back and also comes with an integrated SIM card. You can even theoretically replace them here, since the corresponding slot is freely accessible behind a rubber cover. The micro-USB charging port is also located there, which is tolerable but no longer up-to-date.
Paj GPS Allround Finder 4G
Although the Paj GPS Allround Finder 4G is a tracker in its own right, it is similar to the Salind 11 4G in many respects. Both use the same app and therefore offer the same functions. Therefore, for lack of differences, we will not go into the app and setup again here. However, the all-round has no accessible SIM card and no magnet. The reflective surface is more sensitive to scratches than the Salind model.
Invoxia GPS tracker
The GPS tracker from the French manufacturer Invoxia is shaped like a bar with a tether at the end. The SIM card is also already integrated here and is activated using the app. The subscription is included for one year. The app is simple and easy to understand, instructions are clear and the modern design leaves a good impression.
Winne’s TK 905
The Winnes GPS tracker is available in two versions – with and without 4G. In both cases, the buyer has to use a compatible SIM card, so you don’t sign up for a subscription with Winnes. Before use, you then have to deactivate the PIN of the SIM card and can then use it in the tracker. All instructions can be found in the enclosed manual.
Copenhagen Trackers Cobblestone
The GPS tracker Cobblestone from Copenhagen Trackers was not represented in this leaderboard last time. The model is set up using the Cph Trackers app. To activate it, you have to shake the tracker outdoors. Yes, really, because if there is movement, the device updates its location and wakes up. For everyday use, you can choose from five tracking profiles with different collection frequencies. In “emergency” mode, the app warns of rapid battery drain. With one update per day, the battery should last for four years.
If the tracker is empty, this is actually very stupid, because the battery is neither replaceable nor rechargeable. Means: An empty device goes back to Copenhagen Trackers. It’s a shame, because it’s not only cumbersome, it’s also a waste of resources.